Minister says Ben Wallace was ‘pretty cross’ about hoax Ukraine call
Independent

The UK defence minister was targeted by a hoax caller who managed to keep him on the line for around 10 minutes after he claimed he was the Ukrainian prime minister.

Ben Wallace revealed on Thursday that he received a call in which he was "posed several misleading questions" by someone pretending to be PM Denys Shmyhal, leading him to become "suspicious" and hang up.

He said, complete with a Nadine Dorries spelling of Ukraine...: "Today an attempt was made by an imposter claiming to be Ukrainian PM to speak with me. He posed several misleading questions and after becoming suspicious I terminated the call.

"No amount of Russian disinformation, distortion and dirty tricks can distract from Russia’s human rights abuses and illegal invasion of Ukriane [sic]. A desperate attempt."

It is not immediately clear who was behind the call but the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told the BBC that Wallace had ordered an immediate inquiry into what happened.

The broadcaster also reports a source told them it was a "fairly sophisticated" video call that came to Wallace via "another government department", which added to its credibility, and it is understood it lasted around ten minutes via Microsoft Teams.

The source also reportedly said Wallace was asked about Nato, Ukraine and Russia negotiations, whether the UK would send warships to the Black Sea, and if Ukraine should get nuclear weapons.

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But reacting to it on social media, people thought it was pretty ridiculous that he had been duped. Rather than feeling concerned, though, they did what people do best and had a good old laugh at the politician's expense.

Jokes aside, it is not exactly reassuring news. The shadow Home Office minister, Holly Lynch, said: “For individuals to be able to fraudulently gain access to two of the most senior government ministers with responsibilities for our national defence is worrying.

“There are questions that need answering as to why the basics in due diligence appear not to have happened, especially at a time of heightened security concerns around disinformation and cyberattacks.

“An urgent investigation must look into how this happened so the necessary steps can be taken to avoid anymore such incidents.”

Meanwhile, the real Shmyhal reacted to the news by giving Wallace some advice:

Don't worry though, because armed Forces Minister James Heappey said that Wallace was “very cross” as it should not have been allowed to happen and squashed concerns about security risks, saying he understood Wallace had "a pretty bland" call with the hoaxer.

"He would not ever disclose any sensitive details on a platform that can be very intercepted," he explained and said as soon as the caller started asking questions about Britain's military intentions he became "suspicious" and "terminated the call".

Great. Expect Wallace is not the only minister who has been targeted. Home secretary Priti Patel revealed she received a similar call earlier this week.

It really does happen to the best of us...

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